Wednesday, 05 October 2016 00:53

Can the new UN chief help resolve the Syrian crisis?

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United States has officially announced the suspension of diplomatic cooperation with Russia on Syria. That brings to an end coordination of efforts to counter terrorism and also the ceasefire that was in place.

Basically, it seems, Washington failed to distinguish between Jabhat an-Nusra and the so-called moderate rebels. Russia, on the other hand, has failed to fulfill its commitments. Irre-spective of whether this is due to lack of influence on Damascus, Russia has driven itself to a narrow corridor with not so well thought out policy. It seemed to be following Napoleon’s logic of jumping into the fray and then figuring out what to do next.

There have been miscalculations, difference over stated and real objectives in the Syrian conflict while the geopolitical intrigues and mistrust have brought about the paralysis of the entire political process.

The UN has failed in its mission due to many reasons including tension between global players such as Russia and the US. This has been exacerbated by the opposition’s lack of be-lief in any talks with Damascus and the UN’s failure to invoke the international system.

A new round of talks was scheduled to be held in the end of August but is now unlikely in the near future. Under these circumstances, which are pushing the world to the brink of a global conflict, we need more than ever the strong a truly powerful United Nations.

The election of the new Secretary General of the UN deserves special attention. Ban Ki-moon’s successor will not only inherit unresolved conflicts but also the full new pack of rapidly developing threats coming from two superpowers.

The problem is that while promoting their candidate countries are guided not by the desire to strengthen the UN as an institution, to enable it to tackle global threats, but instead fol-low their own interests. The US seems to be interested in a female candidate to occupy the chair, while Russia promotes Eastern European candidate.

The leader of the UN should have enough courage to push the entire organization toward reforms. For this the UN needs a very determined and resolute person who is ready to take risk and bear the responsibility for each step taken and its consequences. The new UN Sec-retary General should be truly independent and try to return to the UN its damaged reputa-tion.

The new Secretary General should also be as active as possible in the media, competing with the major world leaders in popularity. Theoretically he or she should be a well-known per-sonality with an unblemished reputation and enjoy universal esteem. The UN needs a leader that helps the world body truly serve the cause of peace, not interests of any player or a group of players.

The problem is that among the candidates to the Secretary General there is no figure that would correspond to all of these parameters. It is likely that the UN will continue to face the same challenges, which means it will continue to become more and more irrelevant and far removed from the global agenda leaving crisis resolution to the US and its allies. Russia, on the other hand, will try to bring debates back to the UN, trying to use the advantages of the UN in its current form; based on the same mechanism as in 1945.

The debates over comprehensive UN reforms have continued for too long and will not change no matter who is elected. However, it is the right moment to fully realize the fundamental importance of the UN.

The conflict seems to have reached a dead-end in Syria with all sides having little under-standing of what to do next. What is clear is that the country will be generously fueled with arms. The US and Russia tensions and mutual accusation will continue to rise.

Even as diplomacy stalls, Russia continues to deploy its advanced anti-missile and anti-aircraft system SA-23 Gladiator and bombers. This time the air defense system is deployed not just to protect Russia’s contingency, but Damascus and the ruling regime even as the already deployed S-400’s purpose is changing as well.

Russia will try all possible means to prevent the repeat of Libyan scenario in Syria. The sig-nificant build-up of weapons in Syria and the deepening rivalry enhances the possibility of the Russian collision with coalition forces in the air.

To prevent the worst case scenario, we need the strong and mighty UN, to convincingly en-courage the parties involved to understand the dangerously developing situation and act to ensure peaceful coexistence. Otherwise it seems like we are all doomed.

Article published in Al Arabiya English

Read 2541 times Last modified on Thursday, 19 January 2017 00:49
Maria Dubovikova

Maria Dubovikova is IMESClub President.